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Sheldon van der Linde "maximised" Imola DTM result with 25kg ballast

DTM championship leader Sheldon van der Linde says "we maximised the day" by securing eighth place with 25kg of success ballast in the first Imola race on Saturday.

Sheldon van der Linde, Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3

DTM

The Schubert Motorsport BMW driver came into the weekend as the standings leader after scoring a brace of wins at the Lausitzring last time out, scoring the second of those with the full complement of 25kg on board after taking pole (when cars run without their success weight).

However, the South African told Autosport that he expected Imola "to be a hard weekend without the weight," with the success penalty only making "the effect twice as big".

After starting in eighth position, van der Linde maintained his position in the race and held off a long queue of cars behind to exceed his pre-weekend expectations.

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"Obviously here you’ve got a lot of corners, there’s not many straights, so you’re always braking and accelerating and that’s where you obviously feel the weight most," said the 23-year-old.

"I knew it would be a hard weekend, I didn’t think I would actually make it into the points in race one but I did.

"I stayed where I was in qualifying which was exactly what I wanted to do. The pace wasn’t great, but we know why obviously, so that’s all fine."

Van der Linde was the second BMW home behind seventh-placed Marco Wittmann's Walkenhorst Motorsport example, which he felt "shows that we maximised the day".

Sheldon van der Linde, Schubert Motorsport

Sheldon van der Linde, Schubert Motorsport

Photo by: DTM

With the weight taken off on Sunday, van der Linde believes he can be much closer to the sharp end of the grid.

"Obviously [Wittmann's] pace was stronger, but in the end if you have 25 more kgs it’s to be expected," he added.

"So I’m pretty happy with the day.

"[Having] 25kgs here is the world, so if I can qualify similar or even better [without it on Sunday] then obviously we have a better chance to go to the front."

The result means he retains a three-point championship lead over Mirko Bortolotti, after the Italian charged from 16th on the grid to finish third with a long first stint.

Van der Linde hailed the Italian's drive as "incredible", but said pursuing the same strategy wasn't possible because of the need to consolidate his top 10 starting position.

"I can’t believe [Bortolotti] drove from P16 to P3," he said.

"When you’re going from his position, you take a lot more risk because there’s not really much to lose.

"But from my position, I didn’t really see a point in – obviously you want to move forward, but at that point you have to just accept P8.

"I didn’t have the pace to move forwards really, so we just tried to cover the guys behind us in the pitstop to just stay P8 and I think we did that and we executed quite well."

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